This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in October of 2021. For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVFw_Co4MxM&t=179s
Bob: Today we're talking about a stretching expert who reveals the best time to stretch every day. We're actually going to talk about the best methods to stretching too.
Brad: As well, yeah, I think this is going to be very interesting cause this is a good question. I think a lot of people may be questioning.
Bob: My expert is Brad Walker.
Brad: Oh, I thought that was going to be Brad Heineck.
Bob: Not Brad Heineck, I had him on a podcast and he verified all the stuff that I'm about to say.
Brad: Yeah, he's got a nice book on stretching.
Bob: He's written a dozen books. He’s been at this stretching since the ‘90s, so he's been around.
Brad: Yeah. He knows what he's talking about. We better carry on.
Bob: So, when is the best time to stretch? Now, Brad, I know in the morning is not always the best time to stretch for this reason. One reason is your discs. The discs in your back.
Brad: Between the vertebrae.
Bob: Between the vertebrae, the bones that stack out to make your back, they fill up with fluid at night called?
Bob: Imbibition, yeah. So actually, in the morning, you're taller than you are in the evening. And you're also at a little more risk, putting that disc under more stress because it's already got the stress from the increased fluid. So, you want to wait until you're up for about an hour, maybe after you've walked for a while before you do any stretching. So, the morning's not a great time. Midday for most people, I think, is just too busy. You know they're working!
Brad: Yeah, unless you get a siesta and you can get two hours off or something like that, which in the United States that's pretty rare.
Bob: Right, so Brad Walker, what he does is he stretches right before he goes to bed. He and his wife have all their torture tools on the floor and they lie on the floor, and they work on stretching. And he said this has a lot of benefits. One, the body heals all night long. So if you're stretching the injury, it'll have a chance to recover all night long.
Brad: You get it to relax a little before you go to bed.
Bob: He also says it works on a neuromuscular level. So, the last thing your nervous system remembers before you go to bed is this stretching.
Bob: So, if you want to get the best bang for your buck, stretch at night.
Brad: So, we're talking probably 10 minutes maybe more.
Bob: While you're watching TV, make it a relaxing thing. But now this is the key. If you really want to make some gains, what you really want to do is apply some heat first. This is probably the best thing you can do. So, if you have a body part that's really lagging, let's say your calf muscles with your squats. Put a heating pad on there and warm it up a little bit before you massage it. The next thing you could do is a massage and then you stretch it.
Brad: Now, if you didn't have a heating pad or you wanted to take a warm bath, would that work or a warm shower? But you want to heat it up, and get the initial relaxation going.
Bob: Sure. Yeah, they have those heating pads that you put in a microwave and heat them up.
Brad: Yup, there are a lot of options.
Bob: I like the Thermotex heating pad. This is far infrared heat. These really penetrate deeply. I wouldn't recommend this just for this. If you're having trouble with your back or something like this, I always liked this because it penetrates deeper than normal heat.
Brad: They're relatively expensive so if you really want to get deep heat and get benefits from heat, then it might be something that you may want to invest in.
Bob: It's an investment. But this penetrates 2.36 inches, as opposed to regular heat which only penetrates skin deep. All right, so what you are going to do if let's say I'm really troubled with my quad and my quadricep is really tight, I would just put the heat on, maybe I'd hit both at the same time. I would heat it up for maybe five minutes once the pad is already warm because this takes ten minutes to warm up.
And then I would hit it with a massage gun. And you know it depends on your tolerance, you could maybe use the bullet head. The massage guns all come with five different heads. The easiest is probably the air-filled.
Brad: Less aggressive, yes.
Bob: The bullet is probably one of the most aggressive.
Brad: Yeah, and I have the one in the middle, the round head here. So, if you do have a tight quad, you may get on that. If you get down closer to your knee, then you don't want to use a bullet head, use a round head. Right now, my quads are a little sore from running over the weekend. But you may spend three to five minutes on a larger muscle like that, that you're getting after.
Bob: Yeah, if you find a spot that's really tender, you may want to spend a little more time on it or work around it. I mean that's an indicator that it probably needs some work. If you want to know which muscles to work on, which ones feel tight? When you put it out to stretch, if it's the hamstrings, work on your hamstrings.
Brad: Right. If you've got some sore muscles from doing something outrageous or you know, more than you normally do, work on those muscles a little bit.
Bob: Right, right. And then after that, you can perform the stretch.
Brad: Yeah, the whole idea is to get the muscles relaxed, get circulation to increase, and that's going to improve healing and relaxation. It's going to make life better.
Bob: It's funny Brad, when I was talking to Brad Walker, the stretch expert, he mentioned heat last time I had a podcast with him. And now it's so obvious that you should do heat first. Have you ever done it?
Brad: Well, not really you know.
Bob: No, I mean, I've never done it before I stretch.
Brad: I stretch after I get done working out where my core is up, as a result of working out. But not like this.
Bob: It's interesting. He does not think you should stretch for flexibility after working out. He goes, "The muscles are already tired, they're a little bit vulnerable. We don't want to stretch it to the point of injury." So that's why he waits two hours before stretching after a workout.
Brad: Well, that's a good point to bring up.
Bob: I told him that and he goes, "Right, there was a lot of misinformation out there." And he goes, "That is not true you should not stretch." I said the same exact thing.
Brad: Well, wait ten years and they might change their mind again.
Bob: If some more studies come out on that.
Brad: But really, try this and see how you respond. If you sleep better, if everything is working better it's clear.
Bob: It does make sense to me. I like to massage my feet with the foot massager at night. Right before I go to bed. But I'm going to start doing my calves and heat because my calves are always the problem area. Do you want to show a couple of stretches, Brad?
Brad: Yeah, for example, I've got a hamstring issue that if I maintain them, I'm much better off. I ran over the weekend.
Bob: You had a five-mile race, right?
Brad: Yeah, I did.
Bob: How did you do?
Brad: Good, I felt really good about it. Actually, I won my age division. I might've been the only one in my age division, I really don't know. But I think I ran about a 7:20, 7:25. But I'm sore.
Bob: I'm impressed, Brad.
Brad: My calves and my quads are sore. So now we're going to do the massage for five minutes. Oh, that feels great.
Bob: Right and then you do a stretch.
Brad: Yeah, let's just show. This is I think the best hamstring stretch, particularly if you've got back problems and you don't want to irritate your back, this is the best. In my opinion, of course. You get a stretch strap or you can use a belt. The thing is with the strap I can grab the loop, and I can relax. And I'm just going to go up and I may bend the knee, and then bring the knee to the chest to get the hip a little bit.
Brad: And I always have a pillow or something to rest on or just relax because when you're relaxed you get a better stretch. The big benefit I like with the stretch strap, you're not interfering with your back. And then I'll bring the leg out to the side, and I'll get the medial aspect and the groin muscles, which really is helpful, I think. It really completes that stretch.
Bob: So, how long do you think he recommends stretching before you race?
Brad: Ah! Pop quiz time? That's a good question.
Bob: You're going to be wrong. I know what you'll answer.
Brad: Yeah, I read his book too and it seemed like I thought it varied a little bit. There were some variables.
Bob: Depending on the type of stretch probably. It was only like three to four seconds that you stretch.
Brad: And how many repetitions?
Bob: He didn't say how many reps, but what he would do is he'd go stretch, then he'd start, he'd run slow. I walk to start. And then if he feels something, like a spot that's bad, he will stop and then stretch that spot.
Brad: Oh, so is this all part of a warmup?
Bob: Yeah, all part of a warmup, which makes sense to me because I've done that before where I've gone out for a run, and I started feeling something right away. I stopped, and I stretched my calf or my quad. So, a really good thing to follow. You have to watch the video with Brad Walker or listen to the podcast.
Brad: Yeah, but be careful in whatever you do.
Bob: Yeah, thank you.
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